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Asian Deli at 388 Western - What a GEM

I always wanted to try the deli just North of the freeway on Western right around the corner from the overpriced and wholly mediocre Mai Village. I recently drove by, happened to be starving and just drove in to see what it was about.
First impressions: neat, small, tidy and CLEAN. I mean really clean - like it smelled clean - place. About a dozen tables and a counter to order from. Badly printed menu with the usual thai regulars and what looked like some Lao thrown in. Prices: decent to really good.
I ordered what I always do in a new place: fresh spring rolls and chicken pad thai. These arent' my favorites, but a really good yardstick to go from. Two women, so clean they wore hairnets, struggled happily to take my order and had me sit for 10 or so minutes.
The food: three fresh spring rolls for $3 were great. Fresh, lots of veggies, chicken, shrimp and ground pork. The sauces: fish and peanut. The cheapest best I have had in st paul, Beat Bangkok Deli - my prior fav, but for the fish dipping sauce. The pad thai. A HUGE portion for $6.95. I mean, three days in a row I ate so much Pad Thai I was sick. And it was GOOD. Really good. And slightly different. The noodles are the wide rice noodles and the chicken was beautifully brown. It had a lovely citrus overtone and generally was just plain delicious. So delicious, I repeated the experience again and my serving was even bigger the 2nd time! That time I went in closer to lunch hour where they live up to their "deli" designation. They had a huge beautiful egg roll salad ready to go, along with fresh spring rolls, which I had to order again, and what looked like a lovely red curry. The same hair-netted woman waited on me and encouraged me in that direction. If I can get over my addiction for their pad thai, I will. Honestly, I rarely eat pad thai but as an intro and I can't stop thinking about it. My eight year old went bonkers over my left overs too.

I read this site alot, but never contribute. I have to encouage you all to check out Asian Deli. It would be criminal if this little gem did not make it. And both times, I was the only customer. Try it for lunch. I would love to hear what others have to say about it.

Jayne

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Mai Village
394 University Ave W, Saint Paul, MN 55103

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  1. Thanks for posting. I can't picture anything there. Is there a little strip mall there? I will look for it in the next day as I will be in the neighborhood.

    1 Reply
    1. re: karykat

      Yes, it is before the Union Gospel Mission's building and is part of a really little stip mall. More like a single story office building with a deli attached. On the east side of Western. Do check it out!

    2. Just had a wholly mediocre lunch at Mai Village. Interested to try.

      That said, if the rice noodles are fatter, isn't that venturing into pad see ew territory?

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      Mai Village
      394 University Ave W, Saint Paul, MN 55103

      3 Replies
      1. re: kevin47

        I will take your word for it, Kevin! I am no expert on Thai food and haven't tried enough dishes at Asian Deli to compare. I am seriously thinking of going back today though...

        1. re: shanemio

          Tried it for lunch today and it really was All That. had the pad thai and the stuffed chicken wings. Friendly people and close by — cheap, delicious, and lots of leftovers — even takes credit cards — we'll be there often.

          1. re: bethanyg

            I am so happy you had a good experience!!! Like I said, both times I have been there, I was the only customer. Cool.

      2. Does anyone know if they are open for dinner or is it just a lunch place?

        6 Replies
        1. re: spahkee

          It is only open until 6pm. Got take out for dinner this evening. Again, great big huge portion of good pad thai, really fresh spring rolls, so-so egg rolls, and what I thought was a HUGE bargain: red curry with pork for 5.95. It was Great. Lots of thai basil and nice heat. They didn't ask me over the phone, so I was interested to see how much heat it would have. I rate it medium and right for me. It was very very good. This place is a gem. Going back again to try the soups...
          Also, this time I noticed on their cards they advertise themselves as Hmong, Lao, and Thai food. Beef Larb, raw or cooked anyone???

          1. re: shanemio

            what's the name of the place please? can you give us the phone no.?

            1. re: faith

              Stopped by for lunch today, and I created a "Places" link.

              I had the Chicken Pad Thai, and it was really quite nice; not too sweet or sticky. I also had the raw Beef Larb, and this being one of my favorite dishes, I have to say I was a tiny bit disappointed; the meat, though really flavorful, was a bit mushy for my taste. I will certainly try this again, but probably lightly cooked instead. Considering both of the dishes were priced at $6.95 and were generous portions, I really can't complain.

              To clarify the hours, they are only open Mon-Fri from 10am to 7pm (the menu says 6pm, but the guy behind the counter said it is actually 7pm, which is what the sign outside says.) He mentioned the owners are thinking about being open on the weekends, but have not yet decided. He said they were also thinking about staying open a bit later, but are waiting to see how much business they get later in the day to see if it is worth it.

              I have a menu but is isn't a very good copy, so I'll see how well it scans and try to upload it.

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              Asian Deli
              388 Western Ave N, St Paul, MN 55103

                1. re: SmartCookie

                  I, too went there for lunch today and had the tofu Pad Thai. What a tasty meal with a large portion of crispy tofu, wide rice noodles and a lovely sauce. I will be back and also heard they are beginning to be open till 7 and looking at an 8:00 closing. The wait person said they were unbelievably busy recently and are pleased. Good work chowhounds. Check this place out. Huge portions, low prices, and great, great food.

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                  Asian Deli
                  388 Western Ave N, St Paul, MN 55103

                  1. re: SmartCookie

                    Hi SmartCookie. Where is your favorite place to get Chicken Larb? It is one of my favorite Thai dishes. TIA!

            2. I shared this link with several coworkers on Sunday. Each of them ate at Asian Deli twice already this week (except me - I got my first "go" today). And one of them is planning to go back on Friday!

              Today I tried the stuffed chicken wings and pad see ew with tofu.

              The stuffed chicken wings were huge chix wings stuffed with noodles and pork (what you'd find in a lot of egg rolls), then deep fried and served with a sweet and sour sauce. Delicious!

              The pad see ew was good. The noodles were nice and chewy, though a bit narrower than I expect for this dish (when I've had it elsewhere the noodles were approx an inch wide, while these were about half an inch wide). The Chinese broccoli in the pad see ew was super fresh and perfectly cooked - it had a nice crunch without seeming raw. The flavor of the dish was good - especially with a good squirt of lime over the top (and might I add, their limes actually have juice in them!). The dish was lacking a little of the "wok breath" I like to find in stir fried noodle dishes, but overall it was very pleasant - and even better reheated for dinner. By the way, one order fed me for lunch, my husband for dinner, and me again for a night time snack.

              The people working there were really friendly and welcoming - always a plus! Definitely worth a try folks! And it's so fun to have a clean new place to try in the 'hood! Thanks for the tip shanemio - I generally avoid places that include the word "Asian" in their name, so I might never have tried it without your urging.

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              Asian Deli
              388 Western Ave N, St Paul, MN 55103

              1. Jayne, thanks for the tip! I just got back from lunch at Asian Deli and it was great! Lao pho with a flavorful not-sweet broth, the freshest bean sprouts I think I've ever had with pho; nice, bright jalapeño peppers; chewy noodles. I think Saigon may have lost a customer (though Saigon does have a more extensive (pho) menu and time will tell if this place can keep it up). The spring roll I had was very fresh and tasty and obviously assembled with care.

                I was there around noon and saw a table of maybe 6-7 people from a local office (diesel's? some of them admitted to the server of several vists this week), a table of two with what looked like 4-6 dishes, and two take out orders. Nice to see them busier -- they definitely deserve the business. A welcome addition to the neighborhood.

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                Asian Deli
                388 Western Ave N, St Paul, MN 55103

                1 Reply
                1. re: steve_in_stpaul

                  Ha! Yep, that was a big posse from my office - I took the day off today but bumped into them when I stopped in for take-out. You must have been the guy at the table near the counter? Small world.

                  My husband and I wanted cheap, fast eats today - we really wanted Saigon's banh mi but we were out of cash (they don't take cards these days) so . . . back to Asian Deli. Got pad see ew again, this time with shrimp. The noodles were a bit mushier and less flavorful this time around. Still good though!

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                  Asian Deli
                  388 Western Ave N, St Paul, MN 55103